Because children cannot be prescribed many of the medications adults can use to combat hair loss
caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, children often find themselves in for a very rough time when diagnosed with the condition.
Teasing, bullying and unwarranted attention in the playground can all add up to severe psychological stress for a child with Alopecia Areata
, which in itself is thought to be caused by extreme stress, as well as trauma, injury, allergies and several other possible factors.
For people who work in dermatology and other healthcare fields that involve work with children who have Alopecia Areata, it can sometimes feel like a miracle cure must be out there somewhere. All of which makes a clinical trial involving garlic concentrate rubbed into the scalps of children with Alopecia Areata
a little easier to bear.
Garlic unproven for hair
The Canadian trial, announced at clinicaltrails.gov, is in all likelihood inspired by a mixture of goodwill, desperation and, perhaps, blind hope, as there is no clinical evidence to date that garlic is proven to help grow hair.
The idea that garlic may help people who are losing their hair is certainly not new onions as a cure for pattern hair loss
is equally as enduring and likely has roots in the fact that sulphur in both garlic and onions is good for overall hair health.
But it seems doubtful that a concentrated garlic paste is the magic solution the Canadian team are looking for. They write: “Management of pediatric alopecia is particularly challenging given the chronicity of the condition, limited therapeutic response and devastating psychological effects. There is a paucity of safe and effective therapies in this population.
“The investigators propose to conduct an open label, prospective cohort pilot study using topical garlic concentrate (GarlicRich) for treatment of children with Alopecia Areata. Study medication will be applied topically on affected area of the skin daily for 6 months. Follow up visits will occur monthly to access the efficacy and safety of the proposed treatment.”
UPDATE [May 2018]: This trial was registered in April 2018 as having been terminated due to a 'lack of efficacy of the study medication'.
Garlic in capsule form
GarlicRich is currently on sale in capsule form, each capsule weighing just under three grams containing the equivalent of eight cloves of garlic. It is made by a North American company named Natural Factors, whose website says that the product reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease, helps lower cholesterol, enhances the immune function, has antibacterial qualities and fights fungal and microbial infections.
The trial is being overseen by a professor of Paediatrics at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, who hopes to recruit a total of 20 children for the six-month trial.
Whilst Alopecia Areata Treatments
for adults can be highly effective, often producing significant regrowth results
for the mild to moderate stages of the condition, there are currently limited options available for under 16s. At the moment many families tend to turn to charities such as the Little Princess Trust
for help as they provide real-hair wigs free of charge to children with hair loss. As research continues, however, it is hoped that a treatment suitable for children could be closer than ever.